What to Do When You’re Lost

Photo Credit: Parade

Getting lost in the woods is a big safety concern for hunters. Every hunter should have the knowledge required to get themselves out of that situation. Make sure you have the tools you need before you venture out on any hunting trip.

Find North

There are ways to get your bearings and find your direction even if you don’t have a compass. If you need to find north, look for moss. Moss grows on the north side of trees and rocks. This is the side that is the least sunny and is the better environment for moss to grow.

You can also tell which direction you’re facing by shadows. Place a stick into the ground and mark where the end of the shadow falls. Wait a while and mark the shadow again. The line between the two shadow marks should run east to west. This will help you find which direction you’re facing because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

If you don’t have a compass, you can turn your analog watch into one. Hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand toward the sun. The north to south line will run halfway between the hour hand and the 12:00 hour marker.

Conserve Energy

If you are unable to use any of these tricks, the best thing you can do is stay put to save your energy. You don’t want to wear yourself out and expend all your energy at once. Give rescuers a chance to find you by remaining stationary.


If you have access to any kind of water source, use it. Even the dirtiest creek water can be salvaged if you know how to purify it properly. The easiest way to purify water is boiling it. If you’ve been camping out at your hunting site and/or have a way to heat the water, try that first. If you can get enough fire going to bring the water to a boil, that is a major step in purifying the water. If the water you gathered is free of debris, boiling it is all you need to do to make it safe to drink. The process of boiling the water should kill any pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.

If the water is cloudy and thick with other elements, strain it through a homemade water filtration system. You can make the filtration system with rocks, sand, and charcoal. Take a cup, or anything that will hold water, and cut a hole in one end so that the water can drain through. Place any kind of clean cloth like a bandanna or other small piece of clothing at the bottom of the cup. Then place charcoal from your fire on top of the cloth. Then layer the cup with sand and rocks: placing the sand down first, then the rocks. Then you are ready to pour your water into the cup and catch the clean water coming out of the hole you cut at the bottom. If the water is still cloudy, you may need to repeat the purification process a few times until it’s clean.

Venturing into the woods for a hunting excursion requires many safety precautions: one of which is knowing what to do when you get lost. We hope that these tips will help you if you are ever faced with this situation. Have you ever been lost in the woods? How did you handle it?

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